Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have all of you here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We respectfully ask that you would do the same for us. We are so grateful for those of you who have been sharing the ministry website with all of your family and friends. Your faithfulness to share God's Word with others has brought about tremendous results. Where will God's Word go today? We pray that God's Word will continue to reach those who desperately need to hear it, as we draw nearer to the coming day of our Lord.
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "Most people are bothered by those passages in the Bible which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always notice that the passages in the Scripture which trouble me the most are those which I do understand."
Day after day, year after year, many Christians live with little passion for God, zeal for His name, hope in His promises or joy in His presence. There are essentially spiritually stuck. Scripture tells you the honest truth about yourself, it confronts us with where our lives have gone astray. God's Word declares that the root of our problems is our sin. The good news is, God's Word provides us with ways to get our lives back on the right path. The short answer is that we are to long for the pure milk of the Word. The word for "long" is simply the word "desire" God commands us to desire His Word. Genuine godliness is always marked by a love for and a desire for God's Word.
We were all conceived by the eternal Word of God, as newborn babes. Like natural birth, spiritual birth it must be followed by nurture. As spiritual babes, we must have the milk of God's Word in order to be nourished and to grow in Christ. Therefore, we are to continue in the Word of God. Because God's truth lived out produces spiritual growth. Yielding ourselves to the will of God. Everything in our passage today supports that.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank You for Your Word for us today, so rich. Lord, we pray that You would confirm Your truth to our hearts. We pray especially for those who are literally starving themselves because there's no hunger, no craving, no desire for the Word. Remind them that they cannot grow in relationship with You apart from Your Word. Give them a desire for Your Word and an obsession for the truth.
Today's Message: Long For The Pure Milk Of The Word
Open with me your Bibles to I Peter chapter 2. As we begin a new chapter in Peter's wonderful epistle, I trust this will be a helpful, instructive, and practical portion of Scripture for our edification.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts for what the Spirit is saying to each of us. Listen for His voice.
"Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."
If you are not reading the Bible on a regular basis, you will be unable to grow spiritually in its truth. According to a study by Barna Research Group, less than 50% of Americans open the Bible in any given week. Tragically, 82% think that "God helps those who help themselves" is directly from the Bible. To make matters worse, 63% cannot name the four Gospels, 58% do not know that Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and well over half had no idea that the story of Jonah is in the Bible. I must say, this is beyond disturbing to me, that those surveyed proclaim the name of Christ!
Spiritual growth does not occur automatically, it happens intentionally! It is impossible to grow in your relationship with God without growing in your relationship with God’s Word. You must decisively take action to intensely "crave" or hunger for the Word of God. I fear, that far too many Christians are spiritually malnourished.
In John 8:47, Jesus said "He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." And, by the word hears, it means obey. And in verse 55, He says "and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word."
I love the way Job says in Job 23:12, "I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
The Word of God had ought to fill our minds with the knowledge of God and move our hearts to compassion with His majesty and love. Allow me to share a poem cited by Charles H. Spurgeon to in the The Salt-Cellars; which he credits to the hymnist John Berridge "Run John and work the law commands yet finds me neither feet nor hands, Far sweeter news the gospel brings: It bids me to fly and lends me wings."
Verse 1, "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" Peter is talking about eliminating your sin. We have discussed many times, that the word therefore, reaches back to something that was said earlier. It accumulates tremendous richness because of everything that adheres to it, look at verse 23, "for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." The word therefore is a reminder to all of us to remember the source of our new life. The Word is the seed that gives you life. The Word is a spiritual, inexhaustible, inextinguishable life source.
In that one word this whole point exists. It builds on what he just said in verse 25, "And this is the word which was preached to you, therefore putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander" The verb putting aside is the the word "apotithémi," which means to renounce, reject, cast off. In Greek, its actually a middle-voice verb, which is reflexive. It is a participle modifying the main verb "to long for." So it’s an intense kind of shedding off of these things. Its used a number of times in the New Testament, by both Paul and James.
Some of the early Christians would be baptized in their old clothes, then when they came out of the water, they would be given new clothes. This was symbolic of the fact that salvation marked the shedding of all that was old and the beginning of all that was new. In other words, the components of your old life need to be thrown off; they need to be cast off. Otherwise, they will spoil your spiritual appetite, the taste for holy truth.
By the way, this goes for all sin, allow me to draw your attention to the "all." Peter says "all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander." This is an all-inclusive word. In our culture today, we tend to think of the word malice, as an evil intent towards someone. In the Greek, it is the word "kakia," which literally means evil. In Acts 8:22 it is translated as "wickedness." An inherited, wretched wickedness, a pervasive malignancy of the flesh out of which all other evils emerge.
The he says "all deceit," which is the word is "dolos," it refers to the bait on a fishhook. It is the ultimate deception. He's talking about all the hidden sin, the secret stuff. Malice and wickedness is in the open, deceit is the hidden things, done in private, that people don't know. He says you have to get rid of that!
Next he says "hypocrisy," or "hypókrisis" in the Greek. Originally, it was used for an actor, it refers to "someone acting under a mask." Peter is saying get rid of your phoniness!
Envy, we understand that, its familiar to us, its wanting what someone else has. It is the Greek word "phthónos," it refers to the jealous envy that negatively "energizes" someone with an embittered mind.
Then he says, "all slander," which is the the word "katalalía," in the Greek, which means defaming talk, evil speech. In other words, tearing others down. Evil leads to deceit; deceit leads to hypocrisy; hypocrisy masks envy; and envy will always be followed by slander. So, he says deal with your sin. Confess it to God, repent! Get rid of all these filthy rags of the flesh. Cry out in true repentance, which is the work of the Holy Spirit.
Because a miracle which was worked through the Word of God, which is living and abiding, which was preached to you and you were saved. Since this living and abiding eternal Word of God transformed your life, long for it. If the Word of God transformed you from the beginning it will continue to transform you, so long for it. You had ought to crave the Word and its inherent power to continue to transform your life. Personally, I will not settle for less than what God commands!
Peter says in verse 2, "like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation." If you don’t expose yourself to the hearing the Word preached, to learn its truths, to hear its joys and its convicting realities. Go back and remember the power it displayed at the beginning when you were regenerated and eliminate your sin.
The word he uses here is the Greek noun "brephē," it refers to nursing infants. That word would no longer be used to speak of a child who was nursing. However, Peter is inspired to add another word, "artigennétos," that means "newborn," so that we would know this is a nursing infant. He's talking about the moments after a child comes out of its mother’s womb. It goes right to its mother to provide the milk that God has already prepared, its a newborns only desire. It has one God-given desire, a craving for milk. A newborn baby knows no other desire. Milk provides the necessary nourishment for survival, to sustain life. It also provides antibodies that protect the child.
As a footnote, he's not talking about the babes in Christ, as some seem to think. He’s saying every believer all the time should be craving the Word of God like a newborn baby craves milk. Its analogy. He's saying you like a newborn baby, can’t survive without "the pure milk of the word."
I find that it’s amazing just how much junk food Christians today can feed on, how go along without crying for the Word of God. A baby cries for milk for life. That's the point Peter is making. As Christians, we have a desperate need for God's Word.
You know, my heart breaks for the true believers who can’t get spiritually fed. Though they may faithfully attend church, but they're spiritually malnourished. Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is pure milk. Beloved, even a baby recognizes its need. Yet, many Christians today are literally starving themselves from the pure milk of the Word. As a follower of Christ, whether old or new, you should be characterize your desire for the Word of God. And, if you're not getting it, cry out, like a newborn babe. Allow me to boldly say, don't ever get to the place where you think you don't need it! In the Bible, it says three times that "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Spend your life pursuing every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. I beseech you to get in touch with your need!
Verse 3, "if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." Let me assure you, the more of God's goodness you enjoy on your spiritual palate, the greater your craving will become. Do you want to crave the Word? It's simple really, remember the source of your new life in Christ, remember the power of the Word that transformed you in the beginning, remember your need to be nourished and eliminate your sin! Count your blessings and don't believe Satan's lies that you have arrived. Concentrate on all the times that you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. These are the things that will bring back the craving.
In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul said "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
The Word that changed your heart is the same word that will help you grow. The Word that saves is the Word that sustains. However, let me tell you, sin hinders the effect of the Word in your life. It will stunt your spiritual growth. It’s possible that the reason you’re not craving God’s Word is because there’s too much of the world in you. Remove the sin, even the secret stuff that no one else knows about from your life, that you have been unwilling to get rid of. I'm sure that you know what I'm talking about. God’s Word will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from God’s Word. The Lord makes it very clear that He will discipline those He loves. Therefore, if we continue in our sin, we can expect it! Our actions as Christians do have other consequences, both here and in eternity.
And, although our salvation is not in question, the level of rewards we will receive in heaven depends on how we serve God while on earth. I would like to point, not everyone who claims to be a believer is truly saved. Typically, this person will continue sinning without repentance because they lack the Holy Spirit to convict them. Your struggle with sin is not unique nor is it new.
In Romans 7:24, Paul said "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" Obviously, Paul himself understood what it was like to sin. Paul felt remorse and regret over it, so should you. He didn't willing continue as if Christ was giving him a wink and a nod!
Every Christian faces it, though not all choose to admit it. That doesn't mean we just accept our sin, because every one does it. We should strive to walk with Him and be blameless, that is to be seen as Christ's righteousness in the eyes of the world.God's call to holiness demands that we must strive against sin. By the way, sin, is not what we think, or what society tells us is acceptable, it's what God's Word says it is. We all know we aren’t where we need to be. We are all God's children and we need to grow.
However, if you’re not saved, you've not been born again, the Bible won't make sense to you. But understand this, Jesus said in John 3:3, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus said "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me."
If you feel Jesus Christ knocking at the door of your heart today, I encourage to open the door. Jesus stands at your door and knocks because your permission is sacred. He will not force His way in because He wants you to choose Him. I pray that you will accept His invitation and taste the kindness of the Lord today.
May it be so..
the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.
Now and forever, in Jesus' name